NASA’s Orion Capsule Returns to Earth, How Does It Get Through Earth’s Atmosphere? | space

Illustration of the Orion Capsule jumping through the atmosphere. Image: NASA

SPACE — NASA’s Artemis 1 mission began with the launch of the Orion capsule with a booster rocket into space on November 16, 2022. After nearly a month of flying around the moon, the capsule will undergo a complicated return journey.

The journey back on Sunday (11/12/2022) will not be easy. Orion will pass through Earth’s atmosphere, which usually burns meteorites until they run out. Then, he must deploy a series of parachutes in order to land safely above sea level. Of course at a distance that US Navy ships can reach.

Whatever the Orion capsule passes tomorrow, it will be a record for NASA to continue the mission to Artemis 2, which is to carry astronauts around the moon in 2024. Then Artemis 3, with Orion and its passengers landing on the lunar surface in 2025.

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These are the eight main scenarios for tomorrow’s Orion landing:

1. The Orion capsule is separate from the service module

The first major event in Orion’s return to Earth was the separation of the crew capsule from its service module. This service module built by the European Space Agency (ESA) contains the thrusters, engines and solar panels used during Orion’s time in space.

“The Orion capsule will separate from its service module at around 12 pm EST (1200 GMT, Monday), approximately 40 minutes before touchdown,” NASA said.

2. Jump briefly from Earth’s atmosphere

After removing obsolete service modules, Orion will perform a jump-in maneuver from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule would use its protective casing, along with the associated lift to jump, like a rock across the surface of a lake. Maneuvers like this weren’t possible in the Apollo program just yet. However, advances in navigating spacecraft make it possible today.

“The entry jump will help Orion land closer to the coast of the United States, where the recovery crew will be waiting to bring the spacecraft back to ground,” said Orion Guidance, Navigation and Control Subsystem Manager Chris Madsen in a statement released by NASA.

This maneuver will also reduce the risk of friction in the Artemis program going forward, which astronauts will experience after the Orion capsule is a passenger. This entry jump will reduce the acceleration burden for the astronauts so that they have a safer and smoother journey.

3. Enters the Earth’s atmosphere

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